PS3 Review – Dead Rising 2

September 24, 2010 Written by Zak Islam

The first Dead Rising was released in 2006, back when the current zombie apocalypse fad was in the midst of taking off. But there was something that set this undead slayer apart from the rest of the groaning, brain-nibbling pack; and Capcom knew it. Four years and over one million sales later, Blue Castle games presents us with the inevitable sequel which, on paper, looks to be the godfather of zombie games. The slapstick weaponry paired with the interesting storyline clearly shows that Capcom are dead set on bringing out the big guns with the release of its second zombie manslaughter sim, Dead Rising 2.

Set five years after the original game, the developers have created Chuck Green instead of Frank West from the original game. Poor Chuck had a lot on his plate within the game’s fictional Las Vegas-based setting of Fortune City. Chuck’s situation during the opening stages of Dead Rising 2 is a picky one. The ex-motocross champion is seen participating in a public show entitled ‘Terror Is Reality’ where he makes a living on butchering the masses of zombies on a motorcycle rigged with chainsaws. Soon after, the zombie masses have managed to break into Fortune City leaving Chuck to defend himself against heaps of undead-human-flesh-seeking, ugly-looking zombies. However, not only have the zombies broke loose, but Chuck is also framed for the zombie outbreak when fake footage is shown on a news channel deeming the hero as the cause of the mayhem. The later stages of the game sees Chuck finding his way to the real truth behind the outbreak where he’s desperate to clear his name before the military arrives onto the front yard.

Surely, Greene must have enough on his plate to keep the player busy, right? Not really. Enter Chuck’s daughter who, despite spending the bulk of the game in a safe place within the game’s mall, suffers from a zombie bite – the same sort that took the life of Greene’s wife – making the girl extremely prone to a zombie transformation. In order to prevent her from turning into one, she requires a dose of Zombrex every 24 hours in order to stay human. If Chuck fails to find or purchase a fresh dose of Zombrex each day, his daughter will consequently turn into a blood-sucking zombie. This is where an exploration mechanic kicks in because he must fend his way through the zombie-packed mall situated in Fortune City in order to get a dose of this antidote. Zombrex can be bought in shops at a price. How do you get the money? By simply slaughtering the thousands of zombies who stand in his way. Alternatively, Chuck will be confronted by struggling survivors, who, if saved, will get earn him a huge cash injection.

The game allots Chuck Greene three days until the military arrives for search and seizure of the alleged perpetrator. 24 hours is given to Chuck to locate the life-saving Zombrex, and if he fails to complete it under the time-limit, the game is over for players. The majority of the time finds players attempting to save unaffected humans who are stranded in various areas of Fortune City. The incentive to save these yet-to-be-zombiefied humans is the accumulation of Prestige Points earned when successfully escorting the humans back to safety. These experience points are tallied up which increase health and upgrade Chuck’s abilities making him all the more gritty and menacing. The more Prestige Points players will receive, the faster the main character will level up. As more skills and abilities are utilized, a larger chunk of Prestige Points will be earned at any given point, making for encouraging enticement to investigate Fortune City for crazy weapons and whatnot.

It’s extremely easy to get distracted from the main storyline with the multiple quests, however. There is literally always that extra zombie screaming for the player to chop its head off with a modified paddle saw attached with chainsaws on either side. New to the franchise is the a compelling workshop that Chuck can visit to build customized weaponry from scratch. For example, put some nails onto a baseball bat or a few chainsaws on a paddle-saw and Chuck has himself a brand-new tool to use at his disposal. Throughout the game, players will be able to find 50 combo cards which unlock additional weapon combinations. These novelty weapons, although odd, last longer, does much more damage, and gains valuable experience points. Combinations could range from combining a set of spikes on a baseball bat to getting a lawnmower fused to a miniature car resulting in almost endless satisfaction. Missions will have players doing anything from sticking a pair of scissors into a zombies neck to shooting them where it matters the most. Players will find themselves doing all of this during the story missions or while saving lives of unaffected humans spread around Fortune City.

This is where all the gameplay elements come into full motion. As one would guess, gameplay principally orbits around annihilating the countless zombies on screen and this is, essentially, where the game’s fun factor kicks in. Even during the opening stages of Dead Rising 2 players can pick up various weapons to try out. Grabbing a pair of scissors and stabbing them into a zombie’s neck is as satisfying as picking up a baseball bat filled with needles and sticking it into a zombie’s head. In spite of thousands of zombies minding their own business looking to eat you – it’ll of course lead to someone questioning the fact of the game’s repetitive nature of frequently slaughtering zombies. However, with that said, Dead Rising 2 will deliver more than enough entertainment and variety to turn the repetitiveness into sheer fun  – something which could potentially make the game a standout title amongst players.

One cause of great frustration for gamers from the original Dead Rising is the game’s infamous save functionality. Like the predecessor, Dead Rising 2 does not support an autosave system. The game which will undoubtedly see the player constantly get eaten alive after severe health depletion and not having an autosave feature will prove to be very ludicrous, but at the same time, it adds to the game’s difficulty since the player will have to periodically locate a bathroom – where players will be able to save into one of three save slots – subsequently making its absence a part of the game’s overall appeal. All in all, Dead Rising 2’s save system is at least easier to use than the previous installment’s.

Expectedly, due to the game’s heavy placement of on-screen zombies, Dead Rising 2 habitually suffers from drops in frame rates. The graphical aspect of the game is not all too impressive, either. Deprived resolution in textures are clearly showcased in a higher percentage of areas as well as some of the worst looking characters in history makes the visuals of Dead Rising 2 a major let down. Not only are the graphics dreadful but the terrible lip-syncing for the voice acting during the game’s cutscenes is appalling. The game’s menus and interfaces, however, are pleasant and well done. During gameplay, Chuck will receive tasks via a two-way radio given to him during the precedence of the game, so the player can straightforwardly select where they want the game’s on-screen compass to direct them. Fortunately, the same can be said in regards to the maps since they are clear and distinct and effortlessly accessible. Throughout the course of the game, an on-screen timer will always be showing and ticking down. The game could undeniably benefit from being sharper in the graphics department, however, screen tearing and pop-in is not going to detract gamers from the game’s strong points.

Another standout feature included in Dead Rising 2 is the excellent online multiplayer functionality. There is a fantastic drop-in functionality for anyone to be able to join the player’s single player campaign and help them ramp up their progress towards completion. Additionally, the ‘Terror is Reality’ game show that Chuck participates in during the beginning of Dead Rising 2 is playable online. When playing this competitive mode, participants will join three other players with the objective of racking up the most points from zombie killing on chainsaw-equipped motorcycles. Arguably, the online modes present in the game provides extra depth for those interested in multiplayer games.

In retrospect, Dead Rising 2 is very similar to the original. The game is filled with multiple endings along with a variety of side quests, meaning gamers could go ahead and do the missions assigned to them or just unleash a massacre on zombies and still get an eventual resolution to the game. Dead Rising 2 is extremely fun and at the same time very satisfying, but it is riddled with minor setbacks such as lackluster visuals and the exasperating save system. The cooperative and competitive online multiplayer modes adds a new dimension and plenty of replayability to the game. The game’s dark humor is also a plus. Despite the occasional hiccups players may encounter, Dead Rising 2 will keep players extremely busy since the game’s impressive breadth paired with the sheer satisfaction of splitting zombies makes this game worth the fee of admission alone.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Fun and addictive gameplay

Riddled with flaws such as graphical setbacks

Multiplayer mode adds breadth to the game

8 out of 10